A Gospel Reading
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, they went out of the city. (Mark 11:15-19, NIV).
So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area. (John 2:15, NIV).
Some Disturbing Actions
- Was this violent act of Christ’s premeditated? Mark 11:11 seems to indicate so, as Mark records that Christ “looked around at everything” in the temple the night before this outburst. John 2:15 adds weight to this frame of thought, as a separate yet similar incident in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry ends with Christ deliberately fashioning a whip to drive out those who abused the sacred purpose of the temple grounds! Jesus’ subversive, unexpected act in this passage unnerves me, and says a lot about the nature of when to engage injustice. Frankly, I am fearful of even entering those spaces in my life (of which there are many!).
- What fear of the authorities could be so threatening as to warrant immediate discussion about ending Christ’s life? Again, I’m not sure I know or fully grasp the ‘answer’ to this question, but I certainly do resonate with the loss of control that the religious leaders felt as they watched a growing crowd anticipate what Jesus would do next. Whenever leadership or existing institution is threatened, often the resulting reaction is one based in fear and impending loss. I understand this far too well!
A (Portion of) A Franciscan Benediction
May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.